FDNY Squad Company 252 History
FDNY Squad Company 252 is located at 617 Central Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. The Brooklyn Fire Department (BFD) placed Engine 52 in service on April 1, 1897. Squad 252's historic firehouse was built by the BFD in 1896. Engine 52 officially became part of the FDNY on January 28, 1898 and was renumbered to Engine 152 to avoid confusion with existing FDNY fire companies. In 1913, the Fire Commissioner added twenty-six new companies in Brooklyn and Queens. Due to the growth, Engine 152 was renumbered to Engine 252. On June 29, 1998, the FDNY initiated Engine 252 as Squad 252 into the Special Operations Command. Engine Company 52 of the Brooklyn Fire Department became operational on April 1, 1897. The crew traditionally consisted of twelve men. The first crew of Engine 52 was Foreman Edward Eichhorn, Assistant Foreman Louis Hauck, Engineer Charles J. Heed and

firemen: C.F. Kuprian, C.M. Bampton, Charles Ulleman, John Dreeke, Peter J. Riles, Francis T. Bowers, Henry Gottlock, James W. McGehan and William Collier. Engine 52 was initially supplied with an 1897 P.J. Barrett Hose Wagon and a LaFrance 3rd size reciprocating steam engine, No. 362. A 3rd size steam engine was capable of pumping 600 gallons per minute. The steamers carried enough coal in the tenders to produce 20-25 minutes of continuous pumping.

The Dutch settled the town of Bushwick in 1660. The original Dutch name for the area was Boswijck meaning "heavy woods". The town of Bushwick was annexed by the City of Brooklyn in 1854. The German influx to the north added eleven operating breweries between 1850 to 1880. Southern Bushwick remained a farming community until the mid 1880's. In 1889, the construction of an elevated railway from Manhattan fostered tremendous population growth to Bushwick. As the southern area developed, the need for additional fire companies became evident. Brooklyn organized eighteen new fire companies in 1896 including Engine 52.

On December 20, 1895, the BFD purchased a 25x100 foot plot for Engine 52's firehouse from Mary L. Mintonge and William Van Voorhees for $2,400. The Parfitt Brothers, a leading Brooklyn architectural firm, was commissioned to design the new firehouse in early 1896. On May 20, 1896, the Brooklyn Eagle newspaper reported fierce competition among contractors bidding the job due to the architectural design. The new firehouse would be three stories, designed in a Flemish Revival style that would feature a prominently scrolled front gable and a roof top garden. The front façade would consist of brick and red sandstone from Lake Superior, detailed with a carved terra-cotta lintel and fluted iron pilasters. The ground floor contained sufficient room for the apparatus - consisting of a steam engine and hose carriage or "tender". Stalls for four horses were located behind the tender. The second floor contained officer's quarters to the front and the firemen's dormitory to the rear. One of the newer designs incorporated into Engine 52's house was a hose tower that facilitated drying fire hoses. Leonard Brothers was the winning contractor who built the firehouse for $16,947. Today the firehouse remains much the same as it was over 100 years ago.

1898 FDNY ENGINE 152
Almost thirty years after the Brooklyn Fire Department became a paid uniformed service in 1869, the Cities of New York (including the Bronx), Brooklyn, Long Island City, parts of western Queens and Staten Island merged into the five Boroughs of New York City on January 1, 1898. Engine 52 became part of the Fire Department City of New York on January 28. To avoid confusion with pre-existing FDNY units, Brooklyn engine companies were given a numerical prefix of "1" and Engine 52 became Engine 152 on October 1, 1899.

A fireman's life was difficult for a family man due to the demanding schedule of 24 hours, six days on and one day off. As most firemen resided locally, they were permitted three hours leave for meals at home. A year's salary for a fireman was $1,000 or about thirteen cents an hour.

1913 FDNY ENGINE 252
The second decade of the 20th Century saw the transition of many Queens volunteer companies into paid units. As the Fire Department expanded, engine companies in Brooklyn and Queens were redesignated with a numerical prefix "2". As of January 1, 1913, Engine Co. 152 officially became Engine 252. Twenty-six new companies were added to Brooklyn and Queens, including Engine 277 in Bushwick on March 20, 1913. The FDNY's conversion to motorized apparatus began in 1907. Engine 252 switched from a horse-drawn to motorized apparatus on May 26, 1919 with the addition of a 700 GPM American LaFrance Pumper.

By the late 1920s, the growth of Queens and rise in fire activity prompted the transfer of the 13th Division to the quarters of Engine 236. To fill the void on January 1, 1930, the 15th Division would organize at Engine 252. On February 14, 1933, both Engine 252 and Division 15, relocated to Engine 233 on Hull Street while the Central Avenue firehouse underwent a $10,000 remodeling. In 1936, Probationary Fireman Charles Bach began what was the longest tenure of service at Engine 252, retiring in 1971.

During the 1940s and 1950s the FDNY consolidated many outdated firehouses. Although Engine 252 was considered many times to be disbanded, it remained active on Central Avenue. In 1958, Captain John Mikulasovich, a former Lieutenant from Ladder 132, took a post at Engine 252. He led the company through the turbulence of the 1960s and into the 1970s. "Capt. Mike", as the men affectionately or perhaps reverently referred to him retired in 1973 after serving 37 years in the FDNY. His tenure as company commander was the longest in the first 100 years on Central Avenue.

Arson plagued several areas of the city during the 1970s and Bushwick was no exception. Many of these fires were set in vacant buildings and would spread to occupied structures. One such fire occurred on July 18, 1977 at Knickerbocker Avenue and Menahan Street, Box 767. Engine 252 would be the third due to a fire throughout a five story vacant building. The fire produced such radiant heat as to leap across the street involving other structures. A 5th alarm assignment and a Borough Call (a third alarm assignment) from Manhattan finally brought this fire under control. In its aftermath, over 32 buildings were destroyed or damaged. Two days later a third alarm was sounded for Box 793 for a five-story vacant factory building at Lexington and Reid. These fires all occurred in the aftermath of the blackout of July 13, 1977. The trend of high incidence of arson continued into the mid 1980's.

In March of 1995, FDNY took over the EMS Division of the Health and Hospital Corporation. All firemen were trained as CFR-D technicians. On October 19, 1995, the Landmarks Preservation Commission of the City of New York designated Engine Company 252 a Landmark and the firehouse at 617 Central Avenue as its Landmark Site. The following excerpt was extracted from the official record:
"On the basis of careful consideration of the history, the architecture, and other features of this building, the Landmarks Preservation Commission finds that Engine Company 252 has a special character and a special historical and aesthetic interest and value as part of the development, heritage, and cultural characteristics of New York City."

"The Commission further finds that, among its important qualities, Engine Company 252 is significant as one of the most distinguished firehouses in New York City; that it is an important building reflecting the expansion of civic architecture in the independent City of Brooklyn in the late nineteenth century; that as a major work by Parfitt Brothers, one of Brooklyn's finest architectural firms, it is an important architectural monument in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn; that as an example of Flemish Revival style architecture, it illustrates the popularity of this mode of colonial design in the New York City area with its heritage as a Dutch colonial settlement; and that it is a well-maintained civic building that continues to be used for its original purpose."
Engine 252 is the only landmark firehouse in continuous use since its inception 100 years earlier.

On July 1, 1998, Engine 252 was reorganized as Squad 252 and assigned to the Special Operations Command of the FDNY. Squad 252 was formed with four additional squads bringing the total number of Squads to seven covering NYC for all fires, emergencies and hazardous materials incidents. The Special Operations Command of the FDNY consists of seven Squad Companies, five Rescue Companies, Hazardous Materials 1 and three Marine Companies.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
Squad 252 responded at 9:00 am on September 11, 2001 to the 5th alarm call to the World Trade Centers in lower Manhattan. Two commercial airlines were hijacked and intentionally crashed into the twin towers. Thousands were murdered in the worst terrorist attack in American history. 343 of the FDNY's bravest firemen made the ultimate sacrifice that morning while evacuating over 25,000 civilians from the towers. Six of Squad 252's finest members on duty that morning never returned, Lieutenant Timothy Higgins, Firefighter Tarel Coleman, Firefighter Pete Langone, Firefighter Pat Lyons, Firefighter Tommy Kuveikis and Firefighter Kevin Prior

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